It's a simple truth. There are consequences that one generation unintentionally pass down to their children, and their children's' children. I confidently say "unintentionally" because I am convinced that no one would ever leave those consequences on the shoulders of their future generations if they had fully known the price.
The Bible has this to say about it:
“You shall not bow yourself down to [idols] nor serve them. For I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generation of those who do not follow Me, but giving mercy to a thousand generations who love Me and keep My commandments” Deuteronomy 5:9-10
Thomas Jefferson had this to say about it:
“The earth belongs to the living and not to the dead.”
By this, Jefferson meant that previous generations could not bind the current generation to pay their debts, or require them to work in their father's occupation, or to accept the laws and constitution drawn up by their ancestors.
I don't disagree with Thomas Jefferson's sentiment in that context. But, we all know that there is no way possible to avoid or escape "the sins of the fathers" in reality and we have to become mature enough to look at this glaring truth. Let's take the Dust Bowl for example. It has been long since proven that a generation of farmers inadvertently caused this "unnatural disaster" - and a disaster it truly was, and still is to this day. So, the farmers and citizens of those areas are most definitely being "punished" (so to speak) by these awful dust storms several generations later. We set things into motion by our choices and decisions that create a momentum going forward that can not be stopped. God warns us of this because He likes us and He wants us to recognize this principle, which is no different than the principle and reality of gravity. You can not stop or fully control gravity. You can study gravity until you've realized ways to altar the pull or simulate zero gravity, but gravity still exists and you will have to continue to contend with it.
Recognizing 'the sins of the fathers" is never about playing the blame game. It is always only about understanding your inherited position so that you can come to know how to pivot from that inherited position, away from destructive consequences and into constructive blessings. My poem "Four Down" depicts a difficult and trying part of my family's wonderful story. Over the years I have asked the Lord to help me see the truth of the matter. As a result of those prayers, I have had my eyes opened through story after story shared with me by various family members. I have been truly humbled by what I believe I have been shown. There is not one person in the story that I am not able, with great conviction, to fully honor and respect and love. I have carefully and objectively studied every side of the "feedlot debate" between the cattlemen of my family. The "feedlot debate" is not exclusive to my family by any means as it affects the entire globe. But, as my poem says,
I now know in my heart of hearts,
as sure as the big blue sky,
that if all these cowboys were here today,
every last one of 'em would say,
"It's not always easy to do
the right thing the right way,
but you've just got to pray for help
and then do your best to try."
You can listen to the poem here: https://tinyurl.com/642bedm9